Friday, April 30, 2010

Children of the Revolution, part 2

A quick post, as I'm leaving town for the weekend. Hopefully I'll be back in time, otherwise it's going to be Monday Safari!

Vladimir Lebedev for Usatyj-polosatyi (The moustached-striped) by Samuil Marshak, 1930

Yevgeny Charushin for Scur (The hawfinch), 1930

Nikolaj Kuprejanov for Zverinec (The menagerie), 1930

Valentin Kurdov for Cavalry, 1931

Yuri Vasnetsov for Boloto (The bog) by Vitaly Bianki, 1931

Vasily Kobelev for Forest Scout , 1931

A. Borovskoi for V Taige, 1933

Evgenij Rachev for Zviri pivnichnykh moriv (Animals of the Northern seas), 1933

P.N. Riabova for Pro olenei i detei, pro sobak i pro guse, 1934

Ivan Efimov for Gde raki zimuiut (Where lobsters spend winter), 1935

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Very Magic Flute

Still from the animation It's Mine

Last night I was reading a book about Leo Lionni, a nice homage by his Italian publisher Babalibri in the form of a little book packed with photos, illustrations and testimonials of people who knew and loved him well. To my excitement, I discovered that he had created a series of five animations from his books in collaboration with Giulio Gianini. I know Gianini through his work with Emanuele (Lele) Luzzati, which I love and have previously shown here and here. So this morning I searched the internet hoping to be able to post the Lionni videos, but it seems the only way to see them is to buy the VHS or DVD from amazon (unfortunately, all reference to Gianini has been dropped from the DVD credits).

As a great consolation, and as a small personal homage to the great animator who died last spring at 82, here is the first part of the 1978 masterpiece The magic flute, yet another of his collaborations with Luzzati. You can also find a lovely memorial of Gianini at Michael Sporn's animation splog. Of course, I advise you to enjoy the other opera segments on YouTube, but watch out: the combination of music and visuals is so gorgeous ans sweet, the colors, textures and patterns so rich, you may just swoon like I did, overwhelmed by such heavenly beauty!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Safari - The Bull Charge

Poster by Ota Janacek from Graphis Annual 1961-62, 
thanks again to sandiv999's MCM advertisements flickr set

The Sun is in Taurus, and today's safari is a bloodless bullring. 
Whether raging or quiet, I am in awe of this powerful presence!

Stylized black bull, thanks to Aqua-Velvet's finds flickr set

Poster by Andrew Lewis

Józef Wilkon

Bull's head litograph by Walter Spitzer, 1963, thanks to A Journey Round my Skull

Sweet bull by Sebastiano Ranchetti

Paper bull by origamikuenstler on deviantart, thanks to livingcrafts' tumblr

Bull illustration by Michael Robertson at Samba for Rats

Summer (Bull) limited edition serigraph by Eleanor Grosch

Concert poster by Methane Studios

Sculpture by Alexandra de Lazareff

Illustration from Carmen by Gabriel Pacheco

Illustration by Martina Merlini, aka pOna

Illustration by Jean-Manuel Duvivier

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Painting Mice from Italy

Illustration from Anselmo va a scuola by Simona Mulazzani

It's been a month since my visit to Bologna, and though there are many more artists 
and books I'd like to share, it's time for the blog to move on. But I will try to feature 
a different children's book, illustrator or small publisher every week, in addition to 
my usual postings. To conclude the fair reports, I want to talk a bit about one of 
our precious Italian small publishers. In a period when most news related to my country
 fall into the sad and embarassing cathegories, it's uplifting to witness the growing
 creative vitality of our independent book publishers, away from the noise and nonsense
 of the political arena, and unfortunately mostly ignored by our media and institutions. 
A nice aspect to point out is that despite the general crisis, the sales of many of 
these small companies are actually increasing, a sign that the reading public 
is curious and selective, and rewards quality in its choices.

Topipittori is one of the children's publishers I like the best.
And how could it be otherwise? Their outstanding catalogue  of 53 volumes features
 beautiful stories and some of my favorite contemporary illustrators. In fact, many 
of them have already appeared on Animalarium, like Beatrice Alemagna, Violeta Lopiz,
 Valerio Vidali, Gwénola Carrère, Kitty Crowther, Madalena Matoso, Simone Rea and 
Camilla Engman. The company was founded six years ago in Milan by Paolo Canton 
and Giovanna Zoboli, who is also an author and wrote quite a few of Topipittori's books. 
If you can read Italian, check the recent interview with Canton on Le figure dei libri.

This year, graphics by the Portuguese Planeta Tangerina were featured prominently 
at Topipittori's fair booth, since they have recently published the Italian edition of
  Madalena Matoso's Quando eu nascì. Apart from this and Kitty Crowther's Dentro di me
all their other titles are original productions which, in turn, are increasingly finding
 coeditors around the world, from Asia to Latin America. 

One of the new animal-themed titles this year is Vorrei avere... (I wish I had...), 
written by Giovanna Zoboli and beautifully illustrated by Simona Mulazzani. In the words
 of its publisher, Vorrei avere... is "a tribute to the perfection of animals through the 
loving care of a child who passionately desires to possess their extraordinary abilities". 

I haven't bought the book yet, but I do own and love Al supermercato degli animali 
(In the animals' supermarket) by the same creative duo, which introduces children 
to natural foods and the eating habits of animals through its fun concept, 
simple rhymes and colorful artworks.

I personally discovered Topipittori through another book by Zoboli, Due scimmie in cucina,
 a story about a little boy who loves monkeys (like most of us!) and his very busy sister. 
I love the playful text but honestly, as usual, the bright and modern illustrations by 
Guido Scarabottolo were the deciding factor in me buying it. Scarabottolo is a famous
 Milanese graphic designer, illustrator and art director, whose distinctive artworks 
define the house style of book publisher Guanda.

The illustration above is from one of Topipittori's new productions, the gorgeous 
and dreamy Una storia Guaraní by Alicia Badalan, inspired by traditional beliefs of 
the Guaraní indiansAlso just published, Adele's journey features four animal tales
 narrated by Perrine Ledan and illustrated by Lotte Brauning.

Lion and mice by Simone Rea

And next fall, I'll be waiting for Aesop's fables illustrated by Simone Rea 
and new titles from Valerio Vidali and Camilla Engman!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adventures of a Teddy Bear

A big thank you to Jim Le Fevre for sharing this delightful preview of the upcoming Czech movie Kooky's return. Can't wait to see the whole thing! This combined puppet and live action feature was directed by Academy Award winner Jan Svěrák with production design by Jakub Dvorsky from Amanita Design, an animation and game development studio doing beautiful work, for example this videogame and this music video.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tyger Tyger, Burning Bright

2010 is the Year of the Tiger, and I like to celebrate these fierce and incredibly 
beautiful creatures through the painted scrolls of Itō Jakuchū (1716-1800), a masterful 
and innovative Japanese artist of the Edo period. His tigers strike me for their 
wonderful combination of elegance, expressiveness and power. Jakuchū usually 
painted animals from life, but since there were no tigers in Japan at the time, 
these portraits were copied from or inspired by Chinese artworks.

All of the artworks in this post belong to Etsuko and Joe Price, who were responsilbe 
for rediscovering Jakuchū and other Edo painters in the 1950s, a time when they were
 very little known or valued in Japan and abroad. In 2007 part of their impressive
 collection of screens and hanging scrolls toured major Japanese museums, and was 
later exhibited at the Smithsonian and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Jakuchū was a practicing Zen Buddhist, and many of his major works were created 
for Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines across Japan. In his old age he became a lay monk
 at the temple of Sekiho-ji in the outskirts of Kyoto. "In Zen thinking, the tiger represents
 a natural power that can be controlled through enlightenment seeking discipline. 
In the act of grooming, the tiger suggests a self-intention to move beyond a conflicted
 mental state and toward a focus of energy" (from the Smithsonian's exhibition website).


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